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tv   Nightline  ABC  November 26, 2014 12:37am-1:08am EST

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this is a special edition of "nightline." decision in ferguson. >> he's one of the most controversial faces in america now. >> no probable cause. >> after a grand jury decided not to indict him for killing 18-year-old michael brown. >> burn this [ bleep ] down! >> and tonight -- >> i'm going to be dead. >> officer darren wilson breaks his silence, telling our george stephanopoulos exclusively -- >> that was the first time you'd ever used your gun, right? >> yes, it was. >> he wouldn't have done anything differently. his words, sparking new debate and frustration. >> you have a choice. >> we're there for the bitter reaction on the ground, as ferguson faces a second night of protests. >> this special edition of "nightline," decision in ferguson, will be right back.
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this is a special edition of "nightline." decision in ferguson. >> good evening. we are joining you with breaking news from ferguson, missouri. tonight, frustrations still palpable. demonstrations here and around the country. and strong reaction to officer darren wilson's first public comme comments, that white police officer that shot and killed that black teenager, 18-year-old michael brown. bitter words from brown's mother following the grand jury's
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decision not to charge him. we begin with officer wilson in his own words, his exclusive interview with our george stephanopoulos, saying he feared for his life that august day. >> yeah, actually just a normal day. and i was just patrolling my area. >> alone? >> alone, yes. we're always alone in ferguson. always one-man cars. i was on my way to go get lunch. >> you are driving to lunch and what do you see? >> i see two individuals who i later became to know as dorian johnson and michael brown. >> you didn't know then. >> no, i did not. i saw them walking in the middle of the street, single file, on the double yellow line. i stopped in front of them to let them walk up towards me. >> you're still in the car. >> i never put the car in park. i had it in drive. as they walked up, i asked dorian johnson, the first one to walk on the sidewalk. and his reply was, we're almost to our destination. i was like, okay, well, what's wrong with the sidewalk? and as he passed, he just kept walking, ignoring that. that's when michael brown came next and he had exchanged some
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explicit words with me. he had said, [ bleep ] what you have to say. >> first words to you? >> yes. when i looked at him, we are trained to look at people's hands, the hands are what will hurt you. and i noticed his right hand was full and it clicked then. the call i heard, i was in the vicinity or where they were going. they were in his hands, dorian johnson is wearing a black shirt. that's when it hit me, those with the suspects. >> he was aggressive in his manner. did you have any sense that he might be armed? >> i did not know. i had no idea. got on the radio, i asked for assistance. >> what happened next? >> i backed you they had kept walking, ignored. >> you're still in the car. >> still in the car. i put the car in reverse and i backed up just past them and kind of blocked the street and them off. and -- >> you are in the middle of the street? the street's this way, i was angled that way. kind of blocked them from
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escaping and just kind of provide a little security for everybody. i had gone to open the door and get out of the car and when i did so, i was opening the door, i said, come here for a minute. that's when he turned and said, what the [ bleep ] are you going to do about it and slammed my door shut on me. >> slammed the door shut? >> yes. >> you're trying to get out, he slams the door shut. and? >> i was taken aback. i've never been trapped in my car. i used my door to push him back and yell at him to get back and again he just pushed the door shut and just stares at me. >> so you are staring each other down? >> yeah, he stared at me almost overtop of me. looked like he was trying to intimidate me. as i looked back at him, punches start flying. >> he threw the first punch? >> yes. >> because, you know, some of the witnesses have said that they saw you trying to pull him into the car. >> that would be against every training ever taught to any law enforcement officer. >> didn't happen? >> no, i did not. >> he punch you. did he land a punch? >> yes, he did. the first one hit me in the side
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of the face right in this area and then i don't know what or how many hit me after that, i just know it was a barrage of swinging and grabbing and pulling for about ten seconds. >> what's running through your head? >> what provoked such an aggressive response? to really nothing out of the ordinary besides a conversation. my goal when i originally tried to get out of the car was to get out and just talk with them for 30 seconds until backup arrived and we could investigation the stealing further. i had reached out my window with my right hand to grab onto his forearm. i was going to try to move him back and get out of the car. i felt the immense power that he had. i mean, the way i've described it, it was like a 5-year-old holding onto hulk hogan. >> hulk hogan? >> he was very large. very powerful man. >> you're a pretty big guy. >> yeah, i'm above average. i'm about 210, 215. but you know, from what i've heard, he was around 290. as i'm holding him, i see him coming back around with his left hand. it's in the shape like this and it comes through the window and
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just a solid punch to the right side of my face. the next thing is, how do i survive? >> how do you survive? >> i didn't know if i'd be able to withstand another hit like that. you hear all the time, one punch and somebody is knocked out. if i'm knocked out, what happens to me? then i can't defund myself at all. so, that was my fear. if he hits me again, will i be conscious after that? >> that's what you're thinking, i can't get hit again. >> yes. >> what do you do? >> i went through my progression of how do i get out of this? what's my force that i'm allowed to do? and my training overrode everything that you could ever think. training just kicked in. >> what does your training do at that moment? >> at first it went to mace, but if i would have used that, it would have disabled him if it got to him through both our sets of hands, but it would have disabled me. >> you rule out mace. >> yes. >> this is happening in a split second. >> yes. and the only thing left with miss firearm. so, i -- >> where is your gun at that point? >> i keep it on my right hip. i take it out and i point it at him.
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>> you are no longer holding onto his arm? >> no, my left hand is blocking my face and i'm getting my firearm with the right. >> show us what you did. >> i was like this, i brought my hand up like this. i said, get back, or i'm going to shoot you. immediately, he grabbed the top of my gun. he said, you're too much of a [ bleep ] to shoot me. when he did that, he twisted it and put it down into my hip and had the barrel dug into the crease, in my heft hip. i can feel his hand trying to come over my happened and get inside the trigger guard and try to shoot me with my own gun. at that point, i envisioned the bullet going into my leg. >> both your hands are on the gun at that point? >> yes. this hand's trying to just get it back and, you know, my right hand was on the pistol. >> and his hand's over yours. >> yes, overtop. >> what do you do? >> i managed to wiggle, i mean, only a couple of inches. i slide over slightly and the force of him pushing down actually slid off the side of my leg and when it slid off, it is pointed down at the floor board.
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i didn't have enough strength to pull the gun up and just with one hand, i couldn't maneuver it. i took my left elbow and locked it into the back of my seat and pushed as hard as i could. i got hit to slide up towards my knee. when it got to fully out reach, i noticed it was lined up with the silhouette of his body and that's when i pulled the trigger for the first time. >> what happened? >> didn't go off. the gun was being jammed by his hand on top of the firearm. i believe his finger was blocking the hammer from striking the slide. so, i tried again. and again, another click. and this time i -- this has to work otherwise, you know, i'm going to be dead. he's going to get the gun away from me. something's going to happen and i'm going i pulled a third time and it went off. the glass exploded up from the door and when it exploded, i saw a big chunk of glass come over my hand and i see blood on my hand. i didn't know what it was from originally. i found it it was his blood
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because i wasn't cut. after the glass flies over, i look at him and he kind of backs up about six inches to a foot. and it kind of startled both of us. >> that was the first time you'd ever used your gun, right? >> yes, it was. >> what were you thinking? >> we were both in shock. that's -- it was shocking him to pull it, but at the same time, it was shocking that this was the only option i had. after i looked at him, he gets even angrier. his aggression in his face, the intensity increases. he comes in back at me again. i just blocked my face again and i put my gun up and tried to shoot. well, it doesn't shoot that time. it's jammed again. again, training just kicked in. i never thought about this, just, you get a new round in there. when i did that, i wasn't looking at him, i was just like, rack it, expecting another hit. i put my gun up and fired. after i fired that shot, i look over, he -- >> it went off that time? >> it did. he starts to run and i see the dust cloud behind him, and i
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missed. the round didn't hit him. i go to exit my car. and when i'm getting out, i used my walkie, i said, shots fired, send more cars. and i start chasing after michael brown. >> you sent that radio message, shots fired, but nobody got it? >> no. >> how come? >> found out later my radio during all of the altercation, which was down on the side, which is where my portable radio sets, the channel was changed from one to three. >> that moment before the second shot, you guys are staring at each other and you said there was a look in his eye. you described it as a demon. >> it was a very, very intense, intense image he was presenting. i was so shocked by the whole interaction, because this escalated so quickly from a simple request to now a fight for survival. and it still doesn't make sense to me why someone would act in that way and be so mad instantly, so aggressive. >> he then does run away. >> yes, he does. >> how far does he go? >> i don't know, i mean, around 30, 40 feet.
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>> at that moment, you've called for help. >> yes. >> why not stay in the car? he's running away. >> my job isn't to just sit and wait, you know, i have to see where this guy goes. my goal wasn't to arrest him. my goal is to maintain a visual on him. and i was worried -- >> you weren't going to arrest him alone? >> not alone. i knew i had backup on the way. >> and then he stops? >> he does stop. >> this special edition of "nightline" will be right back. ♪ music the volkswagen golf was just named motor trend's 2015 car of the year. so was the 100% electric e-golf, and the 45 highway mpg tdi clean diesel. and last but not least, the high performance gti. looks like we're gonna need a bigger podium. the volkswagen golf family. motor trend's 2015 "cars" of the year.
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faced me and the stutter step that you sometimes see when people start to run and they kind of do the hop and then go -- he does that and as he does that, his right hand immediately goes into his waistband and his left hand is a fist to the side and he starts charging me. >> what did you think when you saw that? >> i didn't know. my initial thought was, is there a weapon in there? is there a knife, a brick? what is in there, why is your hand going there? we're taught to, let me see your hands. >> as you know, some of the eyewitnesses have said, when he turned around, he put his hands up. >> that would be incorrect. >> no way? >> no way. >> so, you say he starts to run. does a stutter step, starts to come towards you. and -- >> i gave myself another mental check. can i shoot this guy? legally, can i? and the question i answered to myself was, i have to. if i don't, he will kill me if he gets to me. he's already overpowered me once. if he gets to me, i will not -- >> even though he is 35, 40 feet
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away? >> once he's coming that direction, if he hasn't stopped yet, when is he going to stop? >> he starts to come towards you. >> after he's coming at me and i decide to shoot, i fired a series of shots and paused. >> what did you see? >> i noticed at least one of them hit him. i don't know where. but i saw his body kind of flinch a little. and after that, i paused and i again yelled, you know, stop, get on the ground. giving him the opportunity to stop. and he ignored all the commands and he just kept running. i shot another series of shots. and at least one of those hit him. i saw the flinch. and he stopped. i stopped -- correction, i stopped, i said, get on the ground, get on the ground. this time, he's 15 feet away. i start back pedaling. he's still not stopping, after -- >> you were back pedaling? >> yes, away from him. because i was -- he's running through the shots. they weren't phasing him.
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he was looking through me. and as he gets to that 15 feet, after i fired the second round of shots, he gets about eight to ten feet. as he does that, he starts to lean forward like he's going to tackle me and eight to ten feet is close. if he's going to tackle me, he's going to tackle me at that point. i looked down the barrel of my gun and i fired and what i saw was his head and that's where it went. >> some witnesses have said that they actually saw you stand over him and shoot in the top of his head. >> that would be incorrect. >> and he's down now. >> yes. >> you know he's dead? >> yes. when -- i had actually seen the bullet go into his head. i saw that and i saw the face that he had go blank. everything was just blank. and when he landed, he had fell face first and actually slid on his face and upper body. as he did that, his feet came up in the air from all the momentum he had from coming at me. when it came to rest, his feet
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collapsed. i knew immediately that he had passed. >> and when you look back, is there anything you could have done differently that would have prevented that killing from taking place? >> no. >> nothing? >> no. if he would have gotten on the sidewalk and followed dorian johnson to the sidewalk, i probably would have never noticed. he would have continued his day. >> some of the witnesses have said they thought you were out of control. that somehow you had snapped. >> uh-huh. that would be incorrect. there was never -- the only emotion ooild ever felt was fear and it was survival and training. >> and you're absolutely convinced when you look through your heart and your mind that if michael brown were white, this would have gone down in exactly the same way. >> yes. >> no question? >> no question. >> the brown family came out with a statement last night, where they said, we are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not
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face the consequences of his actions. what do you think when you hear that? >> i think those are grieving parents. they are mourning the loss of their son. again, you know, i'm sorry their son lost his life. it wasn't the intention of that day. it's what occurred that day. and there's no -- nothing you can say that's going to make a parent feel better. >> it sounds like you don't think you're possible. >> i did my job that day. >> do you feel any remorse? >> everyone feels remorse when a life is lost. like i told you before, i never wanted to take anybody's life. you know, that's not the good part of the job. that's the bad part of the job. so, yes, there is remorse. >> i guess the only final question i have is, what's the most important thing that people need to believe about darren wilson? >> i just did my job.
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i did what i was paid to do and that was my job. i followed my training. the training took over. it led me to what happened. i maintained the integrity of this investigation. that's it. >> our thanks to george. hard details to hear, harder to look away from. we'll be right back with reaction to that interview. this special edition of "nightline" is brought to you by jcpenney.
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finally tonight, few signs of cooling off here in the
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boiling pot that is ferguson, missouri. it seems officer darren wilson's first public comments have done little to ease tensions here. in fact, for some, they made matters worse. >> and that's when he turned and said, what the [ bleep ] are you going to do about it? >> almost from the moment darren wilson opened his mouth, the reaction was strong. >> i didn't hear him apologize one time. >> patrons at this st. louis barbershop doubting his version. >> i don't believe that. i don't believe what he's saying. >> how do you think your friends will react? >> they know he was lying. everybody in the community knows he's lying. >> jalen is a college freshman. you been stopped by the police? >> plenty of times. >> show of hands if you've been stopped by the police, treated unfairly. >> oh, man. >> two hands up. >> i got both hands up, two hands and two feet. >> these men are voicing frustration. but today around the country, from ferguson to new york, to
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oakland, to boston, people are demonstrating it. last night, michael brown's mother erupted in tears after the announcement the grand jury did not indict the man who killed her son. >> we object publicly and loudly as we can on behalf of michael brown jr.'s family that this process is broken. >> but there are deep and bitter emotions on both sides. supporters of officer wilson interrupted a brown family press conference today. fighting broke out until michael brown sr. interviewed. >> i don't want to hear that. >> it's all right. it's all right. >> as for the barbershop tonight, a metaphor of sorts for america. yes, millions watched officer wilson, but what you heard may well have been colored by the life you've lived. >> because i'm a father myself, when you start losing your kids behind it, it really, you know, tears into your soul. you want something to happen.
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>> a common refrain tonight. darren wilson gets to tell his story. michael brown never will. thank you for watching abc news. tune into "good morning america" tomorrow and, as always, we're online at good night, america. >> yo! hey! [cheers and applause] i am terry crews, and it's time to start making some people rich right here on millionaire! [cheers and applause] today's returning contestant's
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